Thursday, April 26, 2007

Celebrity Visit

Yesterday I had a surprise visit from Adrian Smith, of the Mortimer Chocolate Company, and Steve Wallace who founded the co-operative in Ghana that produces the cocoa beans used in Mortimer’s Ghanaian chocolate powder. Rather than creating a blend of cocoa of different origins, to produce a consistent chocolate, each of the Mortimer Chocolate Company’s powders has a different origin and different taste. I currently stock some from Venezuela and some from Ghana so it was great to meet the man who set up the co-operative in Ghana. And he seemed to get a buzz from seeing his product in sale. In fact, he took so many photographs; my neighbours came in afterwards to ask if I’d had the press in!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Looking Back

Prompted by all the positive feedback customers have given me about the refit, I've been looking back at the old photos and put together some before and after comparisons.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Open For Business

Things continued to conspire against us, including a whole herd of cows who blocked the road on Saturday. I was beginning to think it wasn't meant to be. But we made it in, had the pump replaced, moved the stock around to fill the gaps that were meant to hold the pasta and eventually managed to open!

Have had a constant stream of customers ever since and almost all have commented on how lovely the shop looks and how excited they are that I'm open. Feeling quite proud of how it has all turned out and relieved to eventually be open. Still so much to do, but we're open!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the Thirteenth

It certainly felt like an unlucky day to me. The pump turned out to be beyond repair and not covered by the warranty. The meat slice turned out to be bent in such a way the blade won't turn. The shopping basket delivery man turned up and then found he didn't actually have my baskets on board the truck. The cheese delivery man turned up with another shop's order which leaked all over his trousers and my Italian pasta delivery didn't arrive at all.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere

We now have hot water, thanks to the new water heater installed on Tuesday, but the waste pump (the one that wouldn't switch off a week ago) now won't switch on! Had three sinks full of water that I've been bailing out with buckets. The plumber came out again but couldn't fix it this time and has referred it back to the manufacturer. An engineer is due at 7am tomorrow and should be able to simply replace the pump. Then we might be able to open the shop in the afternoon! But looking at how things have been going recently, I'm not sure opening on Friday the thirteenth is something I should be excited about!

1500 deli pots

I spent months last year looking for suitable packaging for the deli. I hated the idea of contributing to the mountain of waste packaging produced every year. The decision to avoid plastic carrier bags was easy. There are plenty of recycled paper bags which will do the job just as well, if not better. But I also needed something to put olives in. It needed to be food safe, hygienic, light and leak proof. The only choice seemed to be between different shapes of plastic pot made with different thickness's of plastic. But then thanks to a tip from a friend, I fond them......biodegradable deli pots. I got some samples and for three weeks a small pot of olive oil sat on my kitchen work top. One week it was upright, the next upside down and for the third week, propped up on its side so the oil sat on the joint between the pot and its lid. It was only in week three that it leaked. After four days of inversion a tiny amount of oil had worked its way around the seal between the lid and the pot. But that was an extreme test and I had expected it to leak within a couple of hours (which is the longest a pot is really likely to be in this position). A further three weeks later and the pot of oil was still in tact (and not decomposing).

The experimentation was over and a decision was made. I would not be responsible for the creation of pots that would be around hundreds of years after me and I could be confident that my customers wouldn't have problems with leaky pots.

That was last summer, and yesterday my first supply arrived. The deli pots I've chosen are made from plant (usually corn) starch and will degrade on a compost heap in about two months. Rather than producing pollutants as they break down they will enrich the soil. Having seen how much space 1500 deli pots take up I am more pleased than ever that mine will degrade.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bank Holiday, what Bank Holiday?

No chance now of opening before the bank holiday, so instead I'm pretending it isn't happening. Kevin came down for the day today and was a fantastic help with the cleaning. We've wiped walls, floors, ceilings, shelves.... and generally sorted things out.

Last week's problem was the amount of time it took to paint the shelves, and the incredible five days it took for the first ones to dry (strangely those I painted with the 2nd tin of paint dried much quicker). This week it has been plumbing. First the pump was pumping constantly (which it isn't meant to do), the plumbers managed to fix that, but in doing so noticed that the tripping of the electrics, which I'd thought was the fault of the pump, was actually an entirely different fault on the water heater. A leak somewhere that necessitates an entirely new heater, obviously not available straight away and without hot water...well, we can't open. Still it gives me some time to perfect things like the shelf labels and try to work out how to position the scales and cheese slice.